Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
ESR 140
Course Title:
Introduction to Sustainability
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Introduces theory, principles and practices of sustainability and their applications. Includes discussions on maintaining ecological and environmental integrity, human health and well-being, and economic viability. May include off-site field trips, physical activity, and hands-on learning opportunities. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

1. Evolution Statement

To clarify the teaching of evolution and its place in the classroom, the Portland Community College Science Departments stand by the following statements about what is science and how the theory of evolution is the major organizing theory in the discipline of the biological sciences.

A. Science is a fundamentally nondogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. In science, a theory is neither a guess, a dogma, nor a myth. The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation.

B. The theory of evolution meets the criteria of a scientific theory. In contrast, creation €œscience€ is neither self-examining nor investigatory. Creation €œscience€ is not considered a legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F. 2d 1004).

Science (ESR) instructors of Portland Community College will teach the theory of evolution not as absolute truth but as the most widely accepted scientific theory on the diversity of life. We, the Environmental Studies and Resources (ESR) Subject Area Curriculum Committee at Portland Community College, therefore stand with such organizations as the National Association of Biology Teachers in opposing the inclusion of pseudo-sciences in our science curricula.

2. Field-based Learning Statement

Field-based learning is a professional competence in many areas of environmental sciences. Field-based learning includes use of all the senses to make observations in natural and built environments. Field-based learning is experiential often leading to unique sets of observations/data in particular locations. Field-based learning experiences include inherent risks and physical challenges, such as uneven terrain, variable weather and environmental irritants.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Apply an understanding of sustainability and the impacts of human activity.
  • Identify the challenges of achieving sustainability locally and globally.
  • Apply problem-solving and critical thinking skills to identify sustainable solutions and to build resilient communities.
  • Articulate a comprehensive worldview that integrates diverse approaches to sustainability and demonstrates awareness and consideration of tradeoffs and how to balance them.

Course Activities and Design

May include: lectures, guest lectures, field trips (off-site, on-site, during class, and/or out of class time), student projects, group projects, and community-based learning.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Essay, short answer, and/or multiple choice exams
  • Write-ups of Field Experiences/Journaling and Reflection
  • Research Paper(s) or Project(s) on sustainability topics

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  • Basic concepts of environmental systems and sustainability
  • Human impacts and sustainability
  • Appropriate uses of technology and its limitations in sustainability
  • Roles of culture, community, and governmental processes in sustainability
  • How natural, economic, and social systems interact to foster or prevent sustainability
  • Local, national, and global perspectives on sustainability
  • Evaluate scientific information
  • Use basic math and statistics appropriately
  • Understand and use the scientific method
  • Locate and access scientific information
  • Collaborate with peers to effectively work in groups
  • Present information and conclusions logically